Remarks by Michelle Gyles-McDonnough UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Jul 6, 2012

27th Installation of President and Officers of the Rotary Club of Barbados South.

The Hon. Mr. Justice Marston Gibson, Chief Justice of Barbados,

Mr. David Edwards, Past District Governor,

Ms. Katrina Sam Prescod, Assistant Governor,

Ms Sonya Alleyne, Incoming President, Rotary Club of Barbados South,

Mr. Irving Burrowes, Outgoing President, Rotary Club of Barbados South,

Members and friends of the Rotary Club. Good Evening

I am very pleased to deliver brief remarks at your 27th Installation Ceremony for President and Officers of the Rotary Club of Barbados South. 

This is my first opportunity to meet with the Rotary Club of Barbados South, and one I very much welcome given the long and fruitful relationship between Rotary and the United Nations, which dates back to 1945 when some 49 Rotarians acted as delegates, advisors and consultants at the United Nations Charter Conference and helped to draft the United Nations Charter. Rotary and the United Nations have been close partners ever since, supporting worldwide humanitarian efforts such as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) through PolioPlus, one of the most ambitious programmes in Rotary’s history. Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status possible with the United Nations as a non-governmental organisation.

The UN and Rotary share a common vision for a more peaceful world. There is no doubt that we all need to redouble our efforts to build, peace, trust and social cohesion across the globe. The global picture speaks for itself when we see that since the founding of the UN, there have been 67 peacekeeping operations, with 16 currently operational, and a total of 119,225 personnel serving in formal peacekeeping operations; and costing the UN and contributing governments more than $8 billion that otherwise could have been invested in achievement of human development goals.

In the Caribbean, and increasingly, locally here in Barbados, as UNDP pointed out in its recent Caribbean Human Development Report on Citizen Security, we are beset by high rates of violent crime and troubling levels of non-criminalised forms of social violence that are typically directed at members of vulnerable groups.

What we do know is that, for too many people in the world, the gift of peace is an elusive dream. The theme chosen by Sakuji Tanaka, President of Rotary International 2012-2013: “Peace through Service” is therefore fitting, and we are both taking action, the UN and Rotary, to confront global problems. We both believe in global social justice.  And we are both committed to working together to build peace in our society and the wider world.

Peace, security and safety come through secure health; secure income and economic opportunities; social cohesion; tolerance and inclusion of vulnerable groups in our societies, including through a more equitable distribution of social power; and confidence of citizens that their rights will be promoted and respected and that there will be adherence to principles of good governance, including accountability, transparency, and participation.  In the end, this is the quest for human development; increasing the range of human choice, as Caribbean Scholar and Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis put it back in 1955, as a means to improving the human condition.

You the members of the Rotary Club of Barbados South are playing your part.  You have devoted endless volunteer hours to build the tradition of ‘service before self’.

You have continued your annual Christmas hamper project, distributing hundreds of hampers to vulnerable communities in Barbados, helping to ease social deprivation.

You have continued to actively participate in Community Service Projects in Barbados and also join together to provide aid to other Caribbean Small Island States. This was seen in the aid provided to Saint Lucia following the widespread damage and impairment of livelihoods caused by Hurricane Tomas in 2010.

You have continued to inspire business leaders to reach into their pockets and exercise social responsibility for a win-win outcome for business and society.

You have done all of this in the face of many challenges and your efforts are to be commended.

We at the UN are also playing our part, and we look forward to opportunities to build even stronger partnerships with Rotary and the wider business community to empower lives and build resilient nations.  We are already working together in many of the 177 countries in which UNDP is present on the ground, as the base of UN development system.

Here in Barbados and the OECS, we will work with Government, the private sector, and civil society to implement the recommendations of the Caribbean Human Development Report which UNDP launched in February for a shift to better citizen security.

UNDP support to the implementation of the CHDR recommendations will complement the diverse crime prevention and social protection programmes that Caribbean States have already put in place. One such programme, which UNDP also supports at the school and community level, is the Peace Ambassadors Programme of Barbados.  

The Peace Ambassador Programme was launched in 2005 in response to the increased levels of discord and violence in schools in Barbados. These young Ambassadors volunteer their time to help to eradicate violence in schools through the provision of conflict resolution training and education.

Students from seven Secondary schools (averaging approximately 20 Peace Ambassadors per school; approximately 140 Ambassadors in Barbados) are actively serving their communities in promoting peace in their schools and in their home communities.

For example, for the 2011 International Day of Peace, thirty six Peace Ambassadors from the Garrison Secondary School organized a ‘march for peace’ which culminated at UN House. During the march, they distributed ‘5 point cards’ on Conflict resolution and peace building and encouraged persons in their community to be champions of peace.

These young Peace Ambassadors, like many other young men and women around the world, are at the forefront of the struggle for peace and democracy. They are changing the world through their quest for rights and justice. They are mobilizing campaigns and building movements for peaceful change. They are engaging in dialogue and mutual understanding – which was the theme for the 2011 International Year of Youth.

In sum, the UNDP Barbados Office will continue to work with sister UN agencies and stakeholders in Barbados and across the Eastern Caribbean to:

  • Promote strengthened partnerships and multi-stakeholder dialogues to address critical and emerging development issues in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS);
  • Generate public awareness around the issues of citizen security, as we seek to maintain the Caribbean as a zone of peace;
  • Introduce programme responses to address the root causes of recent crime increases and incidences of gang violence among young people and other documented region-wide trends presented in the 2012 CHDR Report; and
  • Raise awareness on the conflict resolution, mediation and peace building capacity development programmes, which aim to strengthen citizen security and participatory governance in Caribbean Small Island Developing States.

I thank you again for inviting me to join you for this important installation ceremony, and applaud the work of the Rotary International and, more specifically the Rotary Club of Barbados South, for your long tradition of placing service before self.  Peace, stability and security are essential to maintaining robust Caribbean democratic traditions and to preserving and improving upon the high levels of human development Caribbean States have achieved.

I wish the incoming President and Officers a successful year as you continue to build “Peace though Service” and look forward to working with you in the future.

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